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Volume 26, Number 1
January/February 2010

“I Used to Think . . . and Now I Think . . .”

Reflections on the work of school reform


AEP 11 WinnerAt the end of a course or a professional development session, I frequently ask the learners I work with to reflect on how their thinking has changed as a consequence of our work together. This reflection takes the form of a simple two-column exercise. In one column, I ask them to complete the phrase, “I used to think . . . ,” and in the other, “And now I think . . . ” People often find this a useful way to summarize how our work together has changed their thinking and their habits of mind, and how we have influenced each other.

Recently, at a seminar on the future of school reform, I asked my colleagues—a group of people who have long been active in various strands of school reform—whether they would be interested in doing this exercise as part of our work together. My suggestion was greeted with nearly universal rejection. The possibility that one’s work might have changed one’s mind over a long period of time seemed just a bit over the edge for that group.

So I decided that I would take the occasion of the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Harvard Education Letter to try this exercise myself. I have been working in and around the broad area of school reform for nearly 40 years. This period has been the most active time of flux in the history of education in this country. How has my thinking changed?

This is an excerpt from the Harvard Education Letter. Subscribers can click here to continue reading this article.